PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Shahram Khan Tarakai has said schools in the province will remain open despite increase in the ratio of coronavirus cases till next review.

The minister said in a statement that the KP government was closely monitoring situation and decisions will be taken keeping in view the emerging situation. For Now, he said, no decision has been taken on closure of schools in the province.

“We have decided to keep the schools open in KP till the next meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) which is scheduled next Monday for situation analysis,” said the minister.

Mr Tarakai said the management of schools were strictly following and monitoring the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in KP to stem the spread of coronavirus. He said the government is also closely monitoring the upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

The minister said closure of schools is not the only solution as other options can also be pondered. However, he said that safety of students is paramount and if the need arises then lockdown and other options can be discussed.

Mr Tarakai said the Elementary and Secondary Education Department is constantly in contact with the district education officers (DEOs) to ensure implementation of coronavirus SOPs. He urged parents and school management to ensure optimal compliance of precautionary measures issued by the Health Department for safety purpose.

The last meeting of the NCOC which was held on Monday decided to adopt the policy of wait and see according to the situation. The options of early winter vacations in schools also came under discussion, but the federal and provincial education ministers decided not to go for it immediately and wait for the situation till next week.

Conflicting statements are emerging from different provincial governments about the emerging situation as the Balochistan government has announced winter vacations from December 01, while the Sindh government says there is no need of winter vacations this year. The Punjab and KP governments are also insisting on continuation of schools and hoping for carrying on. However, if the corona cases kept on increasing, the next NCOC meeting is likely to take a decision on early winter vacations.